China trade has cost Maine 10,000 jobs since 2001, study finds

The China Toll
Posted Aug. 24, 2012, at 7:55 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 25, 2012, at 5:36 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine has lost 10,000 jobs since 2001 because of U.S. trade with China, according to a study released this week by a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

Since 2001, the year China joined the World Trade Organization, “the extraordinary growth of trade between China and the United States has had a dramatic effect on U.S. workers and the domestic economy, though in neither case has this effect been beneficial,” according to the study, titled “The China Toll.”

The study’s author is the Economic Policy Institute, which describes itself as a “non-profit, non-partisan think tank.” It released the study on Tuesday.

The institute concludes that Maine had 12,400 jobs lost or displaced because of increased consumption of imports from China since 2001. However, the state also gained jobs, about 2,400, because of increased exports to China, which yields the net figure of 10,000 lost jobs. That figure represents 1.52 percent of the state’s total employment of 656,400, ranking it 32nd among all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, according to the study.

The United States has increased its imports for consumption from China from $102.1 billion in 2001 to $398.5 billion in 2011, while at the same time only increasing domestic exports to China from $18 billion in 2001 to $96.9 billion in 2011. That created a trade deficit in 2011 of $301.6 billion. Nationally, that trade deficit with China eliminated or displaced more than 2.7 million U.S. jobs between 2001 and 2011, according to the study.

The majority of lost jobs — more than 2.1 million of them — were in the manufacturing sectors. The hardest-hit sector within manufacturing was the computer and electronic products, which the EPI estimates has lost 1,064,800 jobs between 2001 and 2011, roughly 38.8 percent of the total number of lost jobs.

Maine is no stranger to the electronics manufacturing sector. South Portland is home to semiconductor manufacturing plants owned by National Semiconductor and Fairchild Semiconductor. Fairchild, which was headquartered in South Portland until it moved its headquarters to Silicon Valley last year, still employs 800 people in Maine. National Semiconductor, which was purchased by Texas Instruments last year, still employs about 550 people at its South Portland plant, according to BusinessWeek.

While Maine was among the less hard hit at 32nd, the state’s western neighbor topped the list of the hardest-hit states. New Hampshire experienced 20,400 jobs lost or displaced, equal to 2.94 percent of the state’s total employment, according to the study.

The think tank based its study on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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